Local History Society

 Families: Charles and Harriett New

Arborfield Mill


The 'Reading Mercury' of March 19th 1921 recorded the death of Charles New, of The Lodge, Arborfield Hall


Caught in the Machinery

An inquest was held at the Iron Room, Arborfield, on Monday morning, before Mr. R. S. Payne, on the body of Charles New, who was killed on the previous Friday while at work in the mill. Mr. Arthur F. Clark represented the employer of the deceased.

The step-daughter of the deceased, Miss Caroline Gearey, identified the body, and stated that deceased was 63 years of age, and was living at the Lodge, Arborfield Hall, being employed as cowman on the farm. He had very good health.

Mrs. Harriet New, the widow, stated that deceased was all right when he left home on Friday morning to go to work. He had frequently said that if anyone got caught in the machinery (in the mill) they would be killed if they were there alone. The deceased did not understand anything about machinery.

Dr. George Halpin, of Swallowfield, said that deceased was a patient, but he had not attended him for any serious illness; he was a man of about average weight. Witness had made an external examination of the body, and found a large scalp wound about 4 in. by 3 in. on the left of the top of the head; both legs were torn off below the knee. Witness was informed that deceased had been found in the shafting of some machinery, and thought death would have taken place from shock almost immediately. The wound on the head was in the nature of a tear.

James Druett, foreman at the farm, deposed that it was part of the deceased’s work to cut up cattle food, and there was a machine in the mill for crushing cake, worked by a belt, the motive power being derived from a water wheel, and also an oat crusher. The deceased was supposed to start the machinery, but witness or his son generally did so. On Friday last week witness started the machinery just after 7 a.m., and everything seemed all right. Deceased was put on to grind cake. There had never been any trouble with the machinery. The deceased was wearing a cord gun jacket. Witness did not see how deceased could get caught in the machinery if he did his work carefully, and could not tell why deceased was in the spot where his body was found.

Percy James Druett corroborated the statement of his father.

Henry T. Bennett, who was working on the river bank near the farm, said he heard an unusual sound like a thump, and thought something was wrong with the machinery; he found deceased was caught by his clothes in the shafting. Witness stopped the machinery at once, but New was quite dead. The belting was hanging loose. The body was about five or six feet from the machine where the deceased had been working.

The jury returned a verdict of "Accidental death", and did not think there had been any negligence, but they suggested that it might be well to protect certain spots in the mill. They also expressed sympathy with the widow and handed her their fees.

Mr. Clark, on the part of the employer, expressed his sympathy, in which expression the coroner joined.



The New family had lived in the area for at least 20 years. In the 1901 Census, Charles and Harriett New and her four children Caroline, Gertrude, Mabel and James Garey lived in one of the three cottages on School Road.

Charles was born in Heckfield, while Harriett was from Alton.

Having lost her tied cottage, Harriett had moved to the Arborfield Parish Cottages in Greensward Lane by 1926 (for a description of this cottage, click here), and then to the Parish Cottages in Swallowfield Road by 1939.

The Druett family, originally from Shinfield, were living on Arborfield Hall Farm at the time of the accident, but they moved to ‘Sunrise’ next to the ‘Swan’ by the late 1920’s.

Henry Thomas Bennett and Amy Bennett lived at Duck's Nest Cottages at the time of the accident, and they were still registered at that address by 1950. As an aside, Stan and Daphne Bennett lived at Duck's Nest Cottages into the 1960's

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